HSS & PCI Receive Google Award Using Satellite Data to Help Pastoralists Find Greener Pastures

by Peter Hoefsloot
March 25, 2015

Project Concern International and HSS receive funding from Google today to expand the Satellite Assisted Pastoral Resource Management (SAPARM) program. SAPARM puts satellite derived vegetation data in the hands of pastoralists to aid them in making critical decisions on where to find available pasture throughout the year.

The current operational pilot program will expand in Ethiopia and Tanzania.”

We initially received funding from the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) to pilot the approach. Traditional grazing maps were developed on paper with communities. They were then digitized and overlaid with satellite derived normalized differential vegetation index (NDVI), which is a measure of photosynthetic activity. Updated and distributed every ten days, these maps are used with traditional methods, and significantly aid pastoralists in finding available pasture within approved grazing areas that can cover thousands of square kilometers.

Initial results from the pilot found that 78% of households used these maps for migration decisions and a majority identified the maps as their most important information resource. After using the maps in the pilot community, herd mortality dropped by 47% compared to the previous three years, which amounted to millions of dollars in herd value.

With a $750,000 grant, we will expand pilot programs in Ethiopia and Tanzania to scale and further test the innovation.